- 1 Biography
- 2 Personality and traits
- 3 Physical description
- 4 Skills and abilities
- 5 Equipment
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Appearances
- 8 Gallery
- 9 Etymology and translations
- 10 Behind the scenes
- 11 Trivia
- 12 References
- 13 Navigation
Kaz is from a small village near Lij in Kerch. He first came to Ketterdam with his older brother Jordie Rietveld at the age of nine. They had sold their father's farm after he'd died, and decided to use the money to start a new life in the city. However, the siblings were conned out of all their money by Pekka Rollins, who was going by the alias Jakob Hertzoon at the time, and were left penniless. In Crooked Kingdom, Colm Fahey set himself under the fake identity of Johannus Rietveld, Johannus being Jordie's middle name.
He was taken to see the magician who had been performing on the West Stave and saw a boy (Filip) selling wind-up dogs. While Kaz was playing with the dogs, Jordie struck up a conversation with Filip who brought him to Jakob Hertzoon (Pekka). Filip was also part of the con. "Jakob's" fake wife was called Margit and served the two boys food such as hutspot made from sausages. Kaz had a crush on their fake daughter, named Saskia, who gave him her red ribbon, but was also part of the con. "Jakob" had them invest their money in his stocks. A week after he "helped" them with the stocks, they arrived at his house to talk about the business, only to find he was gone with their money. The brothers were eventually left on the streets in dire poverty.
Both Kaz and Jordie caught the Queen's Lady Plague, also known as firepox, when it swept through Ketterdam. Jordie died of the disease, and Kaz fell very ill as well. The siblings were presumed dead and their bodies were collected and brought out by the Reaper's Barge to sea. However, Kaz, barely alive, swam back to Ketterdam using his brother's body as a float. The experience was extremely traumatic for the young Kaz and left him unable to bear contact with another person's skin. Also, it is implied that the illness damaged his throat causing his voice to develop a rasp, which Inej describes as sounding like stone on stone.
After his brother's death, Kaz vowed to make Pekka Rollins pay for conning him out of their money and bringing about Jordie's death. He changed his surname to Brekker to cut off ties to his past and joined up with The Dregs at age twelve. Kaz started out as a simple grunt, but quickly rose up through the ranks in the Dregs to become a lieutenant, feared by many for his precise ruthlessness. It was due to him that the Crow Club, one of the Dregs' main source of income, was reestablished and the formerly scant Fifth Harbour now flourished with business. The Dregs gained power and reputation mostly due to Kaz, and he is viewed by many as the true leader of the Dregs as opposed to Per Haskell.
Six of Crows
Kaz begins the story by running an operation on Geels and the Black Tips, revealing a member of the Dregs, Big Bolliger, to be a double agent. After successfully destroying the Black Tips, Kaz, in a state of confusion, is kidnapped by Jan Van Eck, an upstanding Mercher, who makes an offer. The offer suggests that if Kaz and his crew successfully complete an impossible heist, he will receive thirty million kruge: Break into the Ice Court of Fjerda and rescue Bo-Yul-Bayur. Kaz, unable to resist the offer of thirty million kruge, accepts, gathering a team. His crew consists of Inej Ghafa (his Wraith and spy), Nina Zenik (a Heartrender), Jesper Fahey (a sharpshooter and loyal member of the Dregs - also a Fabrikator), Wylan Van Eck (demo and hostage), Matthias Helvar (Fjerdan and former drüskelle), and, of course, himself.
After rescuing Matthias from Hellgate prison, where he was previously held, the crew made their way to the Ice Court. The journey is long and difficult, involving a great deal of planning and a few dangerous situations, yet finally, the crew arrives at the Ice Court. Each member has their own job, and eventually, the group discovers the man, Bo Yul-Bayur, has died. They were intended to kidnap him, because he was the creator of jurda parem, but then knowing he had died, the crew took his son, Kuwei Yul-Bo, only to discover that the entire heist was a trick set up by Jan Van Eck, (Wylan's dad) who had set up the quest in the first place, to help expand the Van Eck trading empire by selling, and manufacturing more jurda parem.
Kaz manages to anticipate something like this and has swapped Wylan and Kuwei without Van Eck noticing. He then reveals this to Van Eck after Van Eck reveals that he had tricked Kaz. Kaz insists that if Van Eck wants Kuwei, he will need to give up the thirty million kruge. Van Eck, however, noticed the way Kaz looked at Inej and instead kidnapped Inej herself, insisting that Kaz would be able to get his Wraith back if he gave up Kuwei.
Kaz plays the role of a card dealer at Club Cumulus to occupy lawyer Cornelis Smeet, before breaking into his house with Wylan. Matthias rows them back to Black Veil Island and the Crows discuss their plan to steal back Inej and their money from Van Eck. Nina, Matthias, and Kuwei try to discuss Kuwei's future, but Kaz makes it clear that he is in charge of Kuwei's fate - and that of everyone.
When Jesper and Wylan go to meet with Colm Fahey at the university, Kaz and Matthias follow them, anticipating a trap. Indeed, Jesper, Wylan, and Colm are ambushed, and everyone runs back to Black Veil. Kaz helps Jesper construct a lie to his father to explain his situation in Ketterdam, using some of Kaz's own experience being swindled. Kaz begins to form a plan to use Colm in his scheme to discredit Van Eck, to Jesper's frustration, but reveals no details to his crew and reserves a room at the Geldrenner Hotel for Colm.
Kaz writes a ransom note to Van Eck requesting a hostage exchange between his pregnant wife, Alys Van Eck, and Inej, then has the Crows set up several distractions, anticipating a messy response from Van Eck. As they complete the exchange, Van Eck calls in the stadwatch, claiming Kaz has stolen his son as well. Kaz quickly unlocks Inej's shackles and the two jump off Goedmedbridge, land on a flower boat where they don Mister Crimson disguises, and reemerge unrecognizable in the chaos. However, an explosion at the House of the White Rose leads him and Inej to quickly leave West Stave. Kaz hides Inej at a safehouse in the warehouse district, investigates Van Eck's sugar silos, then brings Inej to Black Veil.
Kaz explains his plan to discredit Van Eck by destroying the sugar in his silos and use the stock market to earn money from the subsequent rise in sugar prices. Nina, backed by Inej, forces Kaz to include smuggling Ketterdam's Grisha safely to Ravka in his plan. At night, Inej accompanies Kaz into the city. First, Kaz intercepts his boss Per Haskell and reassures him of their actions and future money. Then, they climb the Church of Barter to do reconnaissance on Van Eck's house. On the way back, Inej confesses she was uncertain Kaz would rescue her from Van Eck, and he admits that he would care for her even if she was no longer his spy, the Wraith.
Kaz's plan goes wrong, and the group reconvenes with Jesper's father. Their plight seems hopeless, as the entire city is out looking for them, and even Kaz's gang, the Dregs, have turned on them. Kaz decides that he will stage an auction with Kuwei Yul Bo as the "prize", in the hope of using the money to fund his team's own plans for the future. He also has a scene where he reveals his true feelings for Inej - almost kissing her neck before his panic takes hold. He then reveals that he has paid off her indenture himself, selling every asset he owns to set her free. Kaz breaks into the Dregs' stronghold and stages an impromptu single-handed coup, fighting off at least ten of the members loyal to Per Haskell, and overthrowing the old man. Then he sets up Colm Fahey as "Johannes Rietveld", an alias using his and Jordie's old name, to swindle money from the Merchant Council and Jan Van Eck. He meets with the Grisha Triumvirate and strikes a deal with Sturmhond the privateer, on behalf of the Ravkan crown. At the auction, it looks like everything is going south - the Ravkans can't afford the price that is being offered for Kuwei, and the Council of Tides shows up to declare the auction a sham. It also seems that Kaz has been betrayed by Wylan Van Eck, who was captured by his own father just before the auction. However, Kaz has been two or three steps ahead the whole time and he slowly reveals his plot to discredit Jan Van Eck and steal the thirty million kruge that Van Eck owes. Towards the end of the book, he reveals that he siphoned thirty million kruge of the council's money into the Dregs accounts, to be divided among his team. He also uses some of his share to buy Inej a ship and finally, he reveals her parents disembarking from a ship that he asked Sturmhond to send looking for them.
Rule of Wolves
Personality and traits
Kaz is cold-hearted, ruthless, and well-known for being willing to doing any job, no matter the danger or violence involved, so as long as it will make him a good deal of money. This trait and his various egregious actions have earned him the nickname "Dirtyhands", a reputation he draws upon to intimidate his opponents. Kaz is manipulative and conniving and makes sure to always be the person in control of the situation. For this reason, he's quick-witted and always has a trick up his sleeve. He discourages trust and is willing to exploit almost anyone for his own gain.
Kaz usually appears calm and collected, rarely allowing his emotions or true thoughts to show. However, he holds a penchant for wrathful revenge, particularly when he is wronged or Inej is hurt. He vowed to avenge his deceased brother and lives by the motto "brick by brick" to take down his enemies. Kaz turned the tragedy and trauma of his childhood into a fearsome reputation, and he actively encourages rumors about his ruthlessness and lack of humanity.
He has extreme difficulty expressing his emotions, even to those close to him, thanks to his PTSD. It takes him a great deal of time and effort to realize and admit his genuine feelings for Inej. Kaz struggles to come to terms with being both Dirtyhands, who can do what needs to be done, and Kaz Rietveld, who can love Inej.
Kaz also suffers from haphephobia, the fear of being touched or touching others. This developed from his traumatic experiences as a child, when he was thought to be dead and dumped with hundreds of dead plague victims. Kaz was forced to swim to shore, using his deceased brother as a float to keep him from drowning. He suffers from PTSD involving vivid flashbacks whenever he makes skin-to-skin contact with anyone else. This severe phobia also comes up when he’s in small spaces with other people: in Six of Crows, when Kaz had to go inside of a prison wagon to infiltrate the Ice Court, he fainted from being forced to be in close proximity with so many other people. Kaz wears gloves all the time to try and overcome this condition and shows to be slowly winning out at the end of Crooked Kingdom where he’s able to hold Inej’s hand and kisses her neck.
Kaz has pale skin and dark hair trimmed short on the sides. According to Inej, his eyes are the color of bitter coffee or strong tea in sunlight. He has a sharp jawline, a narrow face, and a lean, muscular build. On his right arm, Kaz has two tattoos: the Dregs' crow and cup on his forearm, and on his bicep a black R for 'Rietveld', his original surname. His voice is described as a "rock salt rasp."
Kaz wears simple, dark suits tailored to fit him, and a black hat – the outfit of a Ketterdam merchant. He wears merchant clothing to mock respectable businessmen by looking like one of them, rather than wearing the bright flash preferred by most Barrel gang members. Due to his haphephobia, Kaz always wears black leather gloves with small slits in the fingers to allow for better card handling and lock picking.
Kaz has a limp and uses a cane with a crow's head as its handle. His cane itself is also a weapon, created by a Fabrikator and weighted specifically to be used to shatter bones. His limp is due to jumping off a roof of a bank at fourteen, breaking his right leg, an injury that never fully healed properly. The severity of his limp varies, depending on factors such as cold weather and stress. Genya Safin offered to heal his leg, but Kaz refused. When asked by Inej what Kaz's tell is in a fight, he claims that his opponents never look past his limp, giving Kaz the element of surprise on his side.
Skills and abilities
Kaz is skilled at lock-picking, card tricks, and sleight of hand. These abilities are so complex that Matthias often calls him demjin, meaning demon. He is privy to information of just about anyone and anything in the city, due to Inej's stealth-like abilities and his considerable influence over Ketterdam.
His sleight of hand skills has been shown many times through the series, one case being when he took a gun from Per Haskell, took the bullets out without his knowing, and gave it back in a matter of seconds.
Kaz is also known most prominently as the mastermind and leader of the Six of Crows crew. He devises the plan and directs the crew. His plans are often extremely complex, having many layers that even those participating do not know the entirety of the plan. Inej, Jesper, Nina, Wylan, and Mattias all follow his orders without question.
Kaz has outstanding intellect for his age and extraordinary memory, therefore being able to manage businesses such as the Crow Club and Fifth Harbour.
In hand to hand combat, he favors using a cane with a crow-skull-shaped handle that he typically carries everywhere with him. The cane has been shown to be a lethal weapon and is Fabrikator-made to enhance the weight of its swing. Kaz is also comfortable around knives and guns. When unarmed he is also dangerous: holding his own with his fists or using improvised objects as weapons.
At the beginning of the duology, Inej and Kaz have worked together in the Dregs for nearly two years and are each the person the other trusts most. Over the course of the series, they inch closer and closer to a romantic relationship and gradually acknowledge their feelings for one another, but the trauma of their pasts makes it extremely difficult. Still, Kaz makes particular effort to prevent harm coming to Inej and to do right by her, even if he believes she deserves better than him.
Kaz originally rescued Inej from Tante Heleen's Menagerie, transferring her indenture to the Dregs instead. He gives her knives and teaches her to fight and pick locks, and also gives her the name "Wraith." Kaz quickly grows to trust Inej more than anyone else; he even willingly takes his gloves off in front of her. Kaz slowly realizes his romantic feelings for Inej but tries to suppress them, viewing them as a weakness or a liability for both himself and Inej. Inej is also the one to pull Kaz out of his panic attacks. When Kaz almost drowns escaping the Ice Court, he realizes he needs to tell Inej his feelings; however, Inej only wants a relationship with Kaz if he can face the demons of his past and be honest with himself and her.
Kaz often tries to convince himself, Inej, and everyone else that his interest in Inej is purely economical, which upsets both him and Inej. After rescuing her from Van Eck, Kaz confesses that he would still come for Inej if she couldn't be the Wraith anymore, finally admitting she is more to him than an investment. Whenever Inej is injured, Kaz becomes irrational and fears for her safety, and tries to take precautions to protect her.
At the end of Crooked Kingdom, he doesn't wear his gloves out in public (a massive step for him) as well as holds her hand, two things he has never done before. He also reveals to her that he bought her a ship to hunt slavers and also negotiated with King Nikolai to find her parents and bring them to Ketterdam. Beside herself with joy, Inej invites Kaz to come to meet them with her. He then asks her to check if his tie is straight before going to see them. The scene leaves an open ending that implies a potential romantic future between the two of them.
After Inej, Jesper is the second closest person to Kaz. Kaz shares with Jesper more details about his schemes than he does with most members of the Dregs (although not as much as he tells Inej and never the full details). However, Kaz's trust is shattered when he learns Jesper's indiscretion led to Pekka Rollins ambushing them at the harbor. As punishment, Kaz hides key details of his plan, including disguising Wylan as Kuwei, from the sharpshooter. Jesper spends most of Crooked Kingdom trying to get back into Kaz's good graces, even sacrificing his prized revolvers on a job, but Kaz continues to treat him callously.
Jesper also has a strong attraction to Kaz initially, longs for Kaz to trust him more, and is jealous of Inej's position in Kaz's close confidence. However, Kaz never reciprocates these feelings. Kaz comes to regard Jesper as a brother, even calling him by the name of his dead brother, Jordie. Jesper's recklessness and optimism remind Kaz of Jordie, and Kaz does not want to lose Jesper, too.
Jesper is often upset with Kaz's callous treatment of others, such as Wylan and Jesper's father, occasionally leading to physical altercations between the two. Jesper is usually unafraid to question Kaz's judgment and plans, though Kaz knows Jesper will defer to him in the end.
At the end of Crooked Kingdom, Kaz tells Inej that Jesper is missed around the Slat, implying that Kaz misses Jesper.
Etymology and translations
- Kaz took his own surname, Brekker, from a piece of machinery in the Ketterdam harbor. "Brekker" is similar to breker, which means "breaker" in Dutch (the language Kerch is based on).
- "Kaz" means "a flaw", "an imperfection", or "a defect" in both Slovak and Czech.
- "Kaz" also means "a goose" in Turkish.
- "Kaz" sounds similar to "kaas" which means "cheese" in Dutch (the language Kerch is based on). While this has no relevance to the story, it is a popular topic of memes in the fandom.
Behind the scenes
- Leigh has stated on her social media that Kaz thinks that “trans women are women" and by extension, supports LGBTQ+.
- Kaz has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because of his traumatic experiences after Jordie died, which is shown through his constant flashbacks when undergoing contact with human flesh. This was also confirmed in a Q&A shown in the back of some copies of Crooked Kingdom.
- Kaz's astrological sign is Capricorn.
- "How tall are your The dregs characters?" on Leigh Bardugo's Tumblr
- Six of Crows, Chapter 2
- Six of Crows, Chapter 12
- Crooked Kingdom, Chapter 8
- Six of Crows, Chapter 18
- Crooked Kingdom, Chapter 12
- Six of Crows, Chapter 13
- Six of Crows, Chapter 45
- Crooked Kingdom, Chapter 11
- Six of Crows, Chapter 17
- Six of Crows, Chapter 23
- Crooked Kingdom, Chapter 23
- Six of Crows, Chapter 26
- Six of Crows, Acknowledgements
- Collector's edition of Crooked Kingdom
|Main Characters||Kaz Brekker • Inej Ghafa • Jesper Fahey • Nina Zenik • Matthias Helvar • Wylan Van Eck • Kuwei Yul-Bo • Jan Van Eck • Pekka Rollins|
|Minor Characters||Joost • Anya • Emil Retvenko • Councilman Hoede • Geels • Bo Yul-Bayur • Per Haskell • Tante Heleen • Jordie Rietveld • Specht • Rotty • Jarl Brum • Cornelis Smeet • Adem Bajan • Colm Fahey • Aditi Hilli • Alys Van Eck • Marya Hendriks • Zoya Nazyalensky • Sturmhond • Genya Safin • Dunyasha Lazareva • Anika • Pim • Keeg • Roeder • Karl Dryden • Jellen Radmakker|
|Locations||Ketterdam • The Barrel • Hellgate • Ice Court • Djerholm • Black Veil Island • Kerch • Fjerda • Ravka • Novyi Zem • Shu Han • Wandering Isle|
|Groups||The Dregs • Dime Lions • Black Tips • Stadwatch • Grisha • Drüskelle • The Menagerie • House of the White Rose • Merchant Council • Council of Tides • Khergud Soldiers|
|Events||Hringkälla • Hellshow • Queen's Lady Plague • Komedie Brute|
|Miscellaneous||Jurda • Jurda parem • Kefta • Indenture • Djel • Ghezen|